Burning the midnight oil is bad for your health

We know here at Starts at 60 that many of our readers burn the midnight oil, if the timing of some of your commentary is anything to go by. However, based on a new study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, being a night owl could have adverse impacts to your health. Would you change your night owl behaviour for your health?

Yes it seems that those among us who prefer to be active in after dark are at a greater risk of diabetes, weight gain and other health related issues.

Based on surveys conducted by the Korea University College of Medicine, people who displayed evening chronotypes were 2 times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (symptoms that can lead to diabetes and heart disease), and more than 3 times as likely to develop a condition called sarcopenia, which is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, often with the replacement of muscle fibres by fat and an increase in fibrosis.

Curiously, it seems that the issues are not linked to the quantity of hours slept but more to do with the night owls being more likely to partake in late evening snacks, a smoke or have a poorer quality of sleep than their early bird counterparts.

The survey also found an interesting distinction between the risks posed to males and those to females. It seems that females are more likely to have a higher percentage of belly fat and risk of metabolic syndromes whereas males are more likely to develop diabetes and sarcopenia.

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One of the more fascinating submissions from the study suggests that we might not have a choice when it comes to our sleep preferences. Our genes are known to influence our chronotypes, therefore our predisposition to sleep times could have been passed on from your parents.

Do you burn the midnight oil? Did your parents? Would you change your behaviours if you knew it was better for your long-term health and wellbeing?